Posted on June 16, 2022

“White Guy” Case Against AT&T Can Move Forward, Judge Says

Khristopher J. Brooks, CBS News, June 9, 2022

A former AT&T employee is suing the telecommunications giant, alleging the company’s diversity hiring practices discriminated against him because he is a middle-aged White man.

Joseph DiBenedetto, a Georgia resident who worked for two decades as an assistant vice president inside the company’s tax research department, filed an age, gender and race discrimination lawsuit against AT&T after being laid off in the fall of 2020. His complaint claimed that his job was eliminated so the company could fill upper management roles with people of color.

AT&T contested the allegation in January. The company told a Georgia judge that the reason DiBenedetto and other White employees were let go was because the company’s finance division, which houses the tax department, was struggling financially. AT&T called for DiBenedetto’s case to be dismissed, but Judge Mark Cohen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled this week that the case can move forward.

DiBenedetto’s lawyers said in the lawsuit that their client, “a 58-year-old White guy,” spent most of his career at AT&T as a high-performing employee until the company decided it wanted more people of color in management.

“Suddenly, DiBenedetto found himself lacking the assumed longevity, skin color and gender AT&T preferred,” the lawsuit states.


DiBenedetto, who started at AT&T’s tax department in 2000, was assigned a new supervisor, Gary Johnson, in 2017, according to the lawsuit. After Johnson told DiBenedetto in July of 2020 that he planned to retire, DiBenedetto expressed interest in applying for his boss’ job, the complaint states.

“Johnson told DiBenedetto he was qualified for the role and should pursue it but that he did not believe DiBenedetto would obtain the position because he was an old, White male with not enough ‘runway’ left in his career,” according to the lawsuit.